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Six Days in Fallujah

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Six Days in Fallujah is a third-person shooter video game described by the developer, Atomic Games, as a survival horror game. It is the first game to focus directly on Operation Iraqi Freedom,[2] mainly the Second Battle of Fallujah or Operation Phantom Fury.[2] The game follows a squad of U.S. Marines from 3rd Battalion 1st Marines over the span of six days. The premise of the game has been the subject of controversy; with questions raised as to its appropriateness, especially given the fact that the true event the game is based upon was so recent. It was originally to be published by Konami. On April 28, 2009, a spokesman confirmed to the Associated Press that Konami was no longer publishing the game.[3][dead link]


In an interview with Atomic Games president, Peter Tamte, he stated that "One of the divisions in our company was developing training tools for the United States Marine Corps, and they assigned some Marines from Third Battalion First Marines to help us out."[2] However, a few months into development, Third Battalion, First Marines was deployed in Iraq and participated in the Battle of Fallujah.[2] Tamte later stated that "When they came back from Fallujah, they asked us to create a videogame about their experiences there, and it seemed like the right thing to do."[2] Tamte further stated that the goal of Six Days in Fallujah is to create the most realistic military shooter possible, and that "Ultimately, all of us are curious about what it would really be like to be in a war. I've been playing military shooters for ages, and at a certain point when I'm playing the game, I know it's fake. You can tell a bunch of guys sat in a room and designed it. That's always bothered me.".[4] Tamte further elaborated in an interview with Joystiq that, "The words I would use to describe the game—first of all, it's compelling. And another word I use—insight. There are things that you can do in video games that you cannot do in other forms of media. And a lot of that has to do with presenting players with the dilemmas that the Marines saw in Fallujah and then giving them the choice of how to handle that dilemma. And I think at that point, you know - when you watch a movie, you see the decisions that somebody else made. But when you make a decision yourself, then you get a much deeper level of understanding.".[5] Tamte describes the project as "a meticulously recreated in-game version of Fallujah, complete with real life Marines lending their names and likenesses, as well as recreations of specific events from the battle. It's almost like time travel. You're experiencing the events as they really happened."[6]

The team at Atomic Games interviewed over 70 individuals, composed of the returning Marines, Iraqi civilians, enemy insurgents, war historians, and senior military officials, and learned the psychological complexity of the battle.[6] The game's director, Juan Benito, elaborated that "Through our interviews with all of the Marines, we discovered that there was an emotional, psychological arc to the Battle of Fallujah.[6]

Atomic Games describes Six Days as a survival horror game, but not in the traditional sense. The fear in Six Days does not come from the undead or supernatural, but from the unpredictable, terrifying, and real tactics employed by the insurgents that were scattered throughout Fallujah.[7] Benito states that "Many of the insurgents had no intention of leaving the city alive, so their entire mission might be to lie in wait, with a gun trained at a doorway, for days just waiting for a Marine to pop his head in. They went door-to-door clearing houses, and most of the time the houses would be empty. But every now and then, they would encounter a stunningly lethal situation... which, of course, rattled the Marines psychologically." Gamepro has stated that for Benito, giving players a taste of the horror, fear, and misery experienced by real-life Marines in the battle was a top priority. Benito states "These are scary places, with scary things happening inside of them. In the game, you're plunging into the unknown, navigating through darkened interiors, and 'surprises' left by the insurgency. In most modern military shooters, the tendency is to turn the volume up to 11 and keep it there. Our game turns it up to 12 at times but we dial it back down, too, so we can establish a cadence."[7]

Atomic Games has also stated that the game's environments are 100% destructible and degradable thanks to a completely custom rendering engine, and it would surpass that of Battlefield: Bad Company.[8] Tamte states that "This engine gives us more destructive capability than we've seen in any game, even games that aren't finished yet." According to the developers, destructible environments are critically important in telling the true story of the events in Fallujah, as the Marines eventually learned to blow holes in houses using C4, grenade launchers, and air strikes to blindside the insurgents waiting within, being considered as "combat puzzles".[8] It is also stated that the claim of the game containing destructive environments is genuine and not based around a "goofy, out-of-place marketing gimmick."[8]

On April 27, 2009, it was announced that, due to the controversial nature of the game, Konami suspended its role as a publisher. The game is still in development by Atomic games, but Konami will not be publishing it.[9]

On August 6, 2009, Atomic Games said that they were unable to obtain a new publisher and would let go of some staff.[10] A day later Industrygamers stated that they heard from a source, "Out of 75 people, less than a dozen are left and about a third of that isn't even developers. The remaining team is basically a skeleton cleanup crew that will be gone soon too. They are trying to downplay the extent of these layoffs, but the reality is that Atomic is pretty much dead."[11]

On March 2, 2010, IGN announced that the game is still coming out and is finished.[12]


Shortly after the announcement of the game, Six Days was met with criticism by war veterans from the United Kingdom as well as a UK peace group, Stop the War Coalition.[13] Reg Keys, father of slain Royal Military Police Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, stated that "Considering the enormous loss of life in the Iraq War, glorifying it in a video game demonstrates very poor judgement and bad taste... These horrific events should be confined to the annals of history, not trivialized and rendered for thrill-seekers to play out... It's entirely possible that Muslim families will buy the game, and for them it may prove particularly harrowing. Even worse, it could end up in the hands of a fanatical young Muslim and incite him to consider some form of retaliation or retribution."[14]

Tim Collins, a former lieutenant colonel of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, shared a similar disposition. Collins stated, "It's much too soon to start making video games about a war that's still going on, and an extremely flippant response to one of the most important events in modern history. It's particularly insensitive given what happened in Fallujah, and I will certainly oppose the release of this game.[14]

To counter the accusations made by critics, in an interview with Joystiq, Tamte stated that "As we've watched the dialog that's taken place about the game, there is definitely one point that we want people to understand about the game. And that is, it's not about the politics of whether the US should have been there or not. It is really about the stories of the Marines who were in Fallujah and the question, the debate about the politics, that is something for the politicians to worry about. We're focused now on what actually happened on the ground."[5]


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